Rusty, the grand champion steer and former Star-Telegram mascot, died Saturday morning.
Rusty, who was 15 years old and weighed almost a ton, spent his last year in the Fort Worth Stockyards, helping to educate folks about the history of longhorns and to greet visitors at conventions and other events.
Kristin Jaworski, the Herd’s trail boss, said Rusty was famous for his size and from his time as the Star-Telegram mascot, from 2005 until the Star-Telegram donated him to the Fort Worth Herd in July because the newspaper’s printing facility — where Rusty lived — was being sold.
“Everybody knew Rusty,” she said. “We were able to continue his legacy.”
Jaworski called the speckled red and white steer a “gentle giant” who towered over other longhorns.
“He had a beautiful twist on his horns, like a corkscrew,” she said. “It was very unique and added a unique characteristic to our herd.”
But as he grew older, Rusty struggled to move his 1,900-pound frame, which was large even for a Texas longhorn.
“We were doing everything we could to make him more comfortable, but unfortunately, with his age and size, it was working against him,” Jaworski said.
Still, she said, 15 years is a long time for such a large animal.
“I’m real proud that he was in such good shape for his age.”
This Rusty replaced the original Rusty, who was diagnosed with tumors and euthanized in 2005 after about nine years as the mascot. The second Rusty took the grand champion ribbon for senior steers born before 2005 at the 2010 Fort Worth Stock Show. He collected many other ribbons as well during his time with the Star-Telegram.
Rusty was “a good ol’ pet,” said Donnie LeGrand, Rusty’s handler when he was with the Star-Telegram. But he never wanted to wear his halter.
“He’d put his nose in the dirt so you couldn’t get the halter on,” LeGrand said. “He did that every time.
“But with the halter on, he was a different animal — he was calm and did what you wanted him to do.”
During stock shows, LeGrand would take Rusty out in public for folks to see him up close.
“We’d give out Rusty trading cards, and kids got a kick out of it,” he said.
Rusty will be missed, Star-Telegram Executive Editor Jim Witt said.
“The Star-Telegram family was sad to hear our old friend and co-worker had passed away,” he said. “But we’re happy to know he’ll be leading the herd now in that beautiful pasture in heaven.”
Mark David Smith, 817-390-7808